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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2184 ..

Questions without notice

ACT Corrective Services—detainee transfers

MS LEE: My question is to the Minister for Corrections. Minister, on 9 July, a detainee escaped custody in broad daylight within a few hundred metres of schools and playgrounds after the Toyota Camry he was travelling in was intentionally and repeatedly rammed. The Inspector of Correctional Services had months ago found the Camry unsuitable for escort purposes. Moreover, Court Transport Unit, or CTU, officers described it as “unfit for purpose” and had stopped using it. You have now halted the use of the Camry despite initially defending it. Minister, how did we get to the point where this detainee was able to escape?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Lee for the question. First of all, let me commend the bravery of the corrections officers who were involved in the incident on the day. I have met with them personally. The foresight, courage and skill that they put forward during that incident should be well commended. Our staff do a brilliant job, and a very difficult job as well. I thank them for the work that they do, especially when something like this happens.

The matter is subject to a police investigation, as well as being before the courts. ACT corrections is undertaking an internal review, and it has been referred to the Inspector of Correctional Services as a critical incident. When these investigations are concluded, I will be able to make a further statement as to what occurred.

MS LEE: Minister, why did it take a brazen daytime assault on corrections staff in a busy Canberra suburban street to finally convince you to stop using Camrys, in line with the inspector’s finding back in November 2020?

MR GENTLEMAN: I should point out that the inspector’s research was particularly on the Court Transport Unit, not the Camrys used for transport to hospital. It was after the event and the discussion with the commissioner that I gave the advice to cease using the Camrys unless in exceptional circumstances. Of course, that is procedure put in place.

MR HANSON: Minister, given that the detainee was able to sprint from the crime scene, why was he not adequately restrained? Are you now reviewing the risk assessment procedures for escorts?

MR GENTLEMAN: Yes, we are reviewing, of course, the operation of that escort. He was restrained, I understand, by custodial officers. The rest of that will be a matter for the corrections inspectorate and ACT Policing.

ACT Corrective Services—detainee transfers

MRS JONES: My question is to the Minister for Corrections. As we know, in July, as mentioned, a detainee was able to escape from custody. The Camry he was being transported in had been declared by the Inspector of Correctional Services unsuitable for transporting inmates. The inspector also said that another vehicle court transport

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